Bruce Ndlovu , Sunday News Reporter
UNIVERSITIES and tertiary institutions have set dates for opening and commencement of examinations and face to face tutorials, as they also prepare to re-open.
However, the Government announced that there would be no set date for blanket re-opening of the institutions of higher learning but it would be up to individual institutions to determine when they were ready to do so.
The Government last week relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions, allowing schools to re-open as from tomorrow. Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira told Sunday News yesterday that his ministry was prepared for the re-opening of universities, although there would be no blanket date for re-opening. Prof Murwira said institutions can only open when they had met all the health and safety guidelines set by authorities.
“The circumstances will make it possible for the universities to open up at a time when they are sure that they have taken all the precautions that are necessary. We are not pushing them to say all of them should open up at once. Some might be able to open today, some might be able to do it next week and some might be able to do it next month. They have that leeway and it is very important that they have that because it ensures that everything is done properly.
“The circumstances will differ from university to university and when the time when they write examinations is not synchronised. Each university will behave according to the situation on the ground and according to the advice and cooperation from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. But everything is in order,” he said.
Prof Murwira also said since universities had their own health facilities, they would be vaccinating returning members of staff that have not been inoculated yet.
“At every tertiary institution there is a clinic and the Ministry of Health and Child Care has authorised that they also become vaccination centres for the staff that are there. That’s how prepared we are and this decision was reached at the beginning of July. In terms of face-to-face lectures or when they write exams, they were already doing it in terms of the situation that is on their ground. The framework that we gave them allows them to operate at any time in a manner that is conducive and in line with health and safety regulations,” he said.
The development comes at a time when some of the institutions have already released dates for re-opining.
Midlands State University (MSU) has informed students that it would be welcoming first year students for orientation and examinations as from 6 September. In a notice, Deputy Registrar, Academic Affairs, Dr Kudzaishe
Mudzingwa said students that have been vaccinated will get first preference when campus accommodation is allocated.
“The university encourages all members of the university community including students to get vaccinated as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the novel Corona virus. In the same spirit, kindly note that vaccinated students will get priority in allocation of campus accommodation,” Dr Mudzingwa said.
The University of Zimbabwe said end-of-semester examinations for third- and fourth-year students will start on 13 September. The institution’s new semester will commence on 18 October. In a notice to students, the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) said it would re-open in a phased manner, with some faculties set to resume lectures the first Monday after restrictions are eased.
Nust director for communication and marketing Mr Thabani Mpofu said the institution was waiting for further direction from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.
Lupane State University director of marketing and public relations Mr Zwelithini Dlamini also said the institution had not yet set a date for the resumption of face-to-face lectures or examinations.
“No decision has been reached as of now on the resumption of face-to-face lectures. We are hoping that in a short while a decision will be made because the numbers at the institutions are more or less the same as those we see in primary and secondary schools. As of now we are continuing with our virtual learning programme,” he said.